NASCAR stripped Denny Hamlin of his Pocono win, finally taking tech checks seriously

The next generation car, the next generation penalty.

On Sunday evening, shortly after the 21st race of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season ended, the scraps were still stuck on the sacred concrete grounds of Victory Road at Pocono Raceway, the rider who had just celebrated in that space was informed that the win had been taken away.

Denny Hamlin No longer the winner of the M&M’s 400 rating. No longer the second winner of the season three times, the only Pocono Raceway champion to have seven wins and no longer tied Tony Stewart 15th on the all-time victories list at 49. Instead, the future NASCAR Hall of Famer now has a page from the motorsport history book that no driver would want to write.

His victory was ruled out. erased. Deleted. It’s not only the first time a rider at the top level of NASCAR has scored a victory by post-technical examination during the so-called modern era of the sport which began in 1972. This is the first time this has happened since 1960. It feels like we’d better get used to. on him. Joe Gibbs Racing seemed to admit just as much on Monday afternoon when he let appeal dates come and go without a fight.

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NASCAR has always threatened to do so. I promised one day it would happen. Starting in 2019, in the face of criticism that it did not do enough to punish those who used an illegal advantage to win the race – points and fines but the win still stands – the sanctioning body pledged to do more, and it did, but at lower levels, it hasn’t in the cup. Until now.

why now? Because we now have a next-generation car that’s still new, the ride that NASCAR has done everything for as a vehicle that will lead the sport into a better future. A one-size-fits-all valence builder primarily delivered to teams in a box, purchased only from authorized sellers. The 2022 Chevys, Fords and Toyotas are the result of years of research, tens of millions of dollars of investment and an unprecedented collaboration between the three warring auto giants.

This car has delivered a ridiculously competitive season, with 14 winners in 21 weeks, spread across as many drivers and teams as there were five first-time winners and there’s a very real chance that the race winner 16 will be scrapped for the postseason team this fall.

All of the above is why NASCAR is telling teams not to mess with the next gen. NASCAR warned that there would be dire consequences if they did. But NASCAR has also said that before. Much. However, in nearly 75 NASCAR Strictly Stock/Grand National/Cup Series racing seasons, even those of us who fancy ourselves motorsport historians have been sent scrambling to find disqualifications for race days gone by.

In the first Strictly Stock Race that took place in Charlotte on June 19, 1949, Glenn Dunway The winner was tagged, but that victory was revoked when a post-number inspection revealed that his Ford was made with reinforced “bootlegger springs,” and the win was handed over to Jim Roper (Read more about that here). Then there was the April 17, 1960, mayhem in Wilson, North Carolina, when Emmanuel Zervakis the “Golden Greek” was DQ’d to use an oversized fuel tank, giving the win to the NASCAR Hall of Famer Joe Weatherly.

This is it. That’s pretty much the entire list.

None of the more cheated-out racing cars were left out then. It wasn’t the Smokey Yunick race winners of the 1960s whose fuel was hiding everywhere, rolling bars included. Daryl Waltrip rides carrying pounds of balls into the same rolling bars, which were unloaded from the vehicle to loosen via a towed winch as DW yelled “Bombs away!” from the cockpit. Not even Richard Petty’s famous 198th career victory, which came at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1983 by two major violations: running the wrong tires on the wrong side to gain traction and using an engine that was 24 cubic inches too big. King kept winning but lost over 100 points and a record $35,000 fine.

Fines grew during the 1990s and 2000s. NASCAR even taught us the term “mortgaged” because it refused to retract the winnings but referred to the fines and penalties and said those wins were “locked victories.” It was a race equivalent to “A Christmas Story,” when Ralphie and his friends receive the “I’m sure the guilt you feel is far worse than any punishment you may receive” from their teacher.

No one felt guilty that no one had lost their trophies. no one. Even Hamlin on Sunday.

The Hamlin was removed from the top of the box points because the #11 Toyota Camry has some sort of illegal substance hidden inside the car’s nose, a foreign body or a substance that the NASCAR rulebook considers impermissible, and supposedly placed there because it would help turn the car’s handling around the twisted Pocono triangle. This seems like nothing compared to the old school cheats of the past, but these racers weren’t working in the millisecond world. Today’s competitors are doing just that. It wasn’t discovered in a pre-race inspection because it was hidden under a vinyl wrap (spoiler alert: they don’t paint race cars anymore, they wrap them) and it wasn’t removed before the event, but after.

“A few hours later the event ended and Hamlin long returned to North Carolina with the trophy,” said Brad Moran, NASCAR Cup Series Director at Pocono Raceway Media Center. “I can’t go into all the details about what the problems are, but both cars had the same problem. Unfortunately, the check was not accepted.”

“Both vehicles,” as in Hamlin and teammate Joe Gibbs Racing Kyle Bushwho took second place. Instead, the win went to the third-placed Chase ElliotHis fourth victory in 2022 is undoubtedly the most unusual of his career.

Oddly enough, when chatting with NASCAR media on Monday morning, Elliott didn’t really know what he was going to say. He admitted that he doesn’t know how he should feel other than the fact that he doesn’t feel like partying.

“I don’t think any driver would want to win this way,” the championship leader admitted. “I certainly don’t.” “I’m not going to celebrate someone’s misfortune. That doesn’t feel right to me. I’ve crossed the line in third. That’s kind of the way I look at it.”

When asked how he plans to get the trophy back from Hamlin, he said he wouldn’t. “If he wants to keep it, he can keep it.”

Good thing, because on Sunday night, Hamlin retweeted a photo of his daughter waving the square flag, just as she did during the victory lap, riding the rifle in her dad’s car which she won at the time, and added, “Yeah, good luck getting that to back.”

However, the record book says Elliott won, and Hamlin finished 35th. When paychecks are sent to teams, they will reflect that score as well. Heck, even in the Dawsonville Pool Room, they’ve officially admitted their favorite son is the winner, and they sounded the siren on Sunday night as follows They tweeted: “Winner, Winner, Joe Gibbs Racing Cheaters!”

It’s all very strange, isn’t it? Weird only because we didn’t expect it. We never expected that. Joe Gibbs Racing certainly wasn’t expecting that. Why us? Why are they? Unless you were one of the 5,000 people at Wilson Motorcycle Road in the spring of 1960 watching Zervakis in disgrace, no one had ever seen him.

Well, now we have it, and it looks like it won’t be the last time. In fact, we know it won’t, because runners will always be working overtime to find advantages in the gray areas of the rulebook. they must. This is their job and they have always taken that job very seriously.

But it’s also NASCAR’s job to catch them and punish them if they do. Now, at long last, it appears NASCAR is taking this mission seriously, too.